0409ctt-Fuel-Cell2-lo-res The US is providing Connecticut-based FuelCell Energy with $3 million to fund a project that will help fuel America’s competitiveness in the global fuel cell market. Credit: HowStuffWorks, YouTube.

In an ongoing effort to give US businesses more cost-efficient and cleaner energy options, last week the Department of Energy (DOE) awarded a cool $3 million to fuel up the country’s competitiveness in the fuel cell market.

According to a DOE news releaseFuelCell Energy, based in Danbury, Connecticut, will use the monies to fund a project that will “enhance the performance, increase the lifespan, and decrease the cost of stationary fuel cells being used for distributed generation and combined heat and power applications.”

“With support from the Energy Department, the private sector and the department’s national laboratories have significantly reduced costs and improved performance in fuel cell and hydrogen technologies,” says the release.  “Building on this progress, the project awarded today will focus on developing an innovative carbonate fuel cell electrolyte matrix, which promises enhanced cell output and the doubling of service life, which will reduce the costs and enhance the market for efficient, clean fuel cell power. In addition, the project will look for more opportunities to reduce costs through greater production by incorporating manufacturing process improvements.”

The fuel cell industry is a billion-dollar industry with market share to be gained.

Countries in the Asian Pacific ship more than three-quarters of fuel cell systems worldwide, but the US is quickly gaining ground with a series of strategic investments.

In 2012, industry revenues exceeded $1 billion worldwide, and close to 80 percent of investment in the industry was made in US companies. America is among the top four dominant producers of stationary fuel cells, which account for half of all fuel cell shipments worldwide.

Since 2008, the Energy Department’s efforts have reduced the high-volume manufacturing costs for fuel cells by more than 30 percent, increased shipments from 1,000 units to 5,000 units annually, and upped domestic manufacturing by more than 60 percent. Late last year, as part of the Obama administration’s “all-of-the-above energy strategy,” the Department announced some $7 million for fuel cell projects.

According to the Department’s 2013 Pathways to Commercial Success: Technologies and Products Supported by the Fuel Cell Technologies Office report (pdf), their R&D efforts have “helped manufacture about 40 new commercial technologies in the United States, support 65 new technologies that are expected to reach commercial-scale within the next three to five years and issue more than 450 U.S. patents.”  

Feature image credit: Pacific Northwest National Laboratory on Flickr (Creative Commons License).